During the opening sequence, the four Bearers of Lord Souls are listed in accordance with how important they are in the story. First, there's Nito, who doesn't do a whole lot aside from sleep in a coffin and lead a covenant. Then, there's the Witch of Izalith, who accidentally created the Bed of Chaos, which is where all the demons come from. Then there's Gwyn, who lead the battle against the dragons and started the Age of Fire and eventually has to use himself as kindling to keep the First Flame going. Finally, there's the Pygmy, and if the WMG page is anything to go by, he had everything planned from the start, and also found the titular Dark Soul, which all humans possess. Funny how the most important character in the game is mentioned only once.
Quelaag wasn't guarding the Bell of Awakening at all, it just happened to be there. She was defending her defenseless sister from the heavily armed Undead who just broke into their home.
Another really brilliant theory is that Since Quelaag's sister will stop mentioning the pain after feeding her enough humanity, it is likely Quelaag set up shop there specifically to kill and steal the humanity of all the undead that march through the area trying to ring the bell.
Remember the gigantic, gigantic rat you fight in the Depths? If you look closely enough, there's an axe embedded on its left eye. Now do you remember that one of the corpse on the upper floor (that you can access via the Butcher's chute) has a Spider Shield? Both the Axe and the Spider Shield are the Bandit's starting equipment, and in that area particularly are freshly killed human beings, one with a Humanity attached to it. Yes, there were bandits that attacked the damn thing and they didn't survive to tell the tale. Poor bastards...
The Man-Eating Oysters in Ash Lake have five legs to support them. Yet they are unbalanced due to their body structure. So top-heavy in fact, that they actually have poor stability in-game and nearly any strong attack (except from smaller weapons) will throw them off balance. The strong attack from an Ultra Greatsword will actually make them flip backwards, flailing their legs.
Crosses into Fridge Horror considering the way some items and enemies in the game are implied to have been made.
You can get the armor and weapons from a lot of characters by effectively leading them to the events that cause their death. For example, you invade Lautrec's world and kill him, while Beatrice dies sometime after she helps you kill the Four Kings. One odd exception though is Iron Knight Tarkus; whether or not you summoned him for the Iron Golem, you'll always find his armor under the painting in Anor Londo. But then, if you do summon him, you'll see that he's perfectly capable of handling the Golem all by himself! In Tarkus' world, he was able to get past the Golem without any outside help.
Related to this: you find Tarkus' armor right in front of the painting in Anor Londo. Tarkus uses a BFS and wears heavy armor, neither of which are ideal on the rafters above the painting's chamber. With his weightiness and lack of finesse, it's hard to keep his footing under those circumstances, and he's especially vulnerable to the more nimble guardians perched on the rafters, making it very easy to send him plummeting to his death. Alternatively, Tarkus may have attempted to fight the Painting Guardians on the floor in front of the painting, who used their natural agility to avoid his powerful and cumbersome attacks and overpowered him with their raw numbers.
Why do you find Paladin Leeroy's body and armor in Gravelord Nito's chamber? Remember how you can stir up skeletons by moving into certain places of the tomb, and how the fight is generally easier if you stay out of the southern area (where all of the Giant Skeletons are)? Looks like while Leeroy was attempting to fight the Gravelord himself, he lived up to his original namesake.
If you look at the two elevators in the room where you fight Ornstein and Smough that lead up to Gywnevere, they are completely different sizes. One could pass this off as asymmetrical design, which is strange in a place like Anor Londo, where a lot of the scenery is perfectly aligned. Then you remember a certain trait pertaining to Smough and that larger elevator on the right makes a lot more sense.
Alternately, considering the size difference between humans and gods, the left-side elevator is for humans and the right-side one is for gods.
There are also stairs of two distinct sizes leading to Gwynevere's chamber.
The only way to have a "No death/Souls Lost" run is to wear the ring of sacrifice, guess what you need to avoid dying with souls? By trading a piece of humanity. Guess the ritual involves giving up one's humanity to keep their soul.
Small Fridge: Humanity in soul's shadow form is probably the reason why people from different cultures, even the ones that hide from the gods, can understand each other; absorbing someone else's humanity means you recycle a portion of their skills and individuality into your soul, including a part of being human: speech. Second, the reason why the main character can understand everyone intelligible at any time is because they inherited the dark soul from their ancestors; if the dark soul allows its possessor to produce a (really small) humanity every time they almost go hollow, why not produce a humanity with all languages? That would explain how the main character talks to giant cats and mushrooms.
In addition, the Pinwheel the player fights has most of his power devoted elsewhere. During the fight with him/she/them/it, Pinwheel creates copies/servants that go down in one good hit. Right outside Nito's boss room are several much tougher Pinwheel servants, as well as infinitely spawning baby skeletons. Most likely Pinwheel had to put most of his power into holding Nito in place and guarding him while he/she/they/it conducted whatever research they were up to with the piles of books in the boss room, to the point where the servants persist even after the main Pinwheel is killed.
You know why it seems like your character never turns hollowed no matter how many times they die, or how much souls and humanity they lost? Because you, the player, did not give up. All of the characters that turned hollowed in the game are those who, after receiving enough punishment from the unforgiving world of dark soul, slowly turning insane and thus, hollowed. If at any point the player gives up and stop playing the game as a whole, that is when their character start turning hollowed.
One might be surprised that Gwyn is very weak to fire, while he himself is wielding a burning greatsword and spent an incredible amount of time burning in the Kiln of the First Flame. Yet, when you stop to think about it, by using fire spells and equipment you are actually making Gwyn burn out faster. The Age of Fire is ending, Gwyn has become Lord of Cinder, and you are accelerating the process by using Pyromancy/fire weapons. Just something to consider.
Witch Beatrice's less-than-stellar performance as a Summon against the Four Kings may have been deliberate on the developers' part: if she had so much difficulty beating them with your help, what the Izalith was she thinking taking them on by herself?! No wonder she was killed.
Have you wondered why the Bells Of Awakening are called that? At first, it seems to be just for dramatic effect or maybe metaphorical, like their ringing awakens you to your destiny. But no, they're just Frampt's wake-up call.
Of the three invasion points where Kirk attacks you, the Depths seemingly makes the least amount of sense. Demon Ruins and Lost Izalith are close enough to the Chaos Covenant, yet the Depths is a good distance away. Until you realize that the rats there have among the best drop rate for Humanity in the game, which is above all things what Kirk needs more than anything else. Seems even NPCs aren't entirely above farming when times are tough...
Frampt sending you to kill Gravelord Nito, the Witch of Izilaith, the Four Kings, and Seath the Scaleless looks, at first glance, like a pretty straightforward task of recovering the Lord Souls. However, if you look a bit closer, one can note that taking out these entities isn't just a matter of recovering their Lord Souls. The Four Kings and the Abyss are a serious threat to Anor Londo. The Witch of Izilaith is spawning endless hordes of powerful demons as the Bed of Chaos. Seath the Scaleless is completely batshit crazy and conducting horrible experiments right outside the main palace of the gods, and his agents are roaming around the country grabbing victims wherever they can. And while Gravelord Nito is relatively passive, necromancers by the bucketload are camping in the Catacombs and raising their own brands of undead. Remember that Frampt and Gwyndolin are trying to maintain their power in Lordran and the power of the gods in the rest of the world by Linking the Fire, and in order to reestablish that power and rebuild Lordran, they've got to get rid of all these beings who are causing trouble in their backyard. So along comes a badass Chosen Undead who proves his/her willingness to go this far on his/her quest - an ideal weapon to dispose of these troublemakers....
Gwyn is a bit of an Anti-Climax Boss. While he hits like a freight train and moves fast, its nothing you haven't dealt with by that point, and far more dangerous and unfair bosses have been pounding you the rest of the way through the game thus far. But this makes sense, as the Lord Soul that gave him all his power has been bequeathed to Seath the Scaleless and the Four Kings. What's left is a crazed old man with a big sword and fire/lightning magic, but little else. If you'd faced Gwyn at his prime....
Why is it that darkness, with no more fire, could be good for humans? Because then their humanity won't be used to feed fire anymore.
If Lautrec is truly as self-serving as in-game items say, why is he available for summoning twice? Because he gets something out of it too. Both times you summon him, you can also summon Solaire. When a Knight of Sunlight is summoned and a boss killed, all participants (summoner and summoned alike) get a sunlight medal. Even when he seems to be helping you, he's really helping himself. The fact that he gives you a sunlight medal as thanks for freeing him suggest its a regular thing for him.
Hawkeye Gough's line is as follows: "The dragons shall never be forgotten… We knights fought valiantly, but for every one of them, we lost three score of our own. Exhiliration, pride, hatred, rage… The dragons teased out our dearest emotions …Thou will understand, one day." Pay careful attention to that last line. He's talking about the Dark Souls experience. All of the frustration of the game brings out all those emotions.
How does the Chosen Undead return to a bonfire after dying or dropping off of a large cliff? By using their Dark Sign, which returns the player to the bonfire minus their souls and can be used at any time.
Dark Souls is a dark game. Darkness is overcoming everything, as the gods themselves fall and the flames fade. Now, what soul did the Undead inherit again? Darkness Overcomes becomes a whole lot more literal.
Do only special bonfires have a caretaker or did they all once have one?
No, they did not. You cannot sit down at a bonfire after the firekeeper has been killed, as the flame goes out. All of the bonfires without fire keepers are still lit; thus, there were no fire keepers there to begin with.
Giant rats drop Humanity. Think about that.
That probably doesn't mean what you think it does. They're giant rats. Just like you find corpses with humanity, they most likely end up eating remains with humanity left in them. In the case of the giant giant rat, it probably just ate a guy or something.
In Duke's Archives you will encounter strange, squid-head monsters called Pisaca. In the area you fight them in, you will find two non-hostile ones cowering in the corner and if you get near them you can hear girls sobbing. If you kill them, you receive two healing miracles, and their descriptions state that they're special miracles granted only to the maidens of Gwynevere, Princess of the Sun. All of these creatures have a chance of dropping Humanity, and the Duke's Archives is used for some unspecified horrifying experiments...
The above is made even worse by the fact that Maiden Rhea can be found imprisoned in the Duke's Archives under specific circumstances.
In a radio interview, the creators state that the maggot ending is the happier ending for Solaire because if you defeat Gwyn with him he links the fire in his own world.
The Purging Stones are extremely important and useful items capable of removing curses, the most debilitating debuff in the game. However, the item description states that humans are powerless against curses and can merely redirect their influence and that the stones were once human or some other creature. When you use a Purging Stone, you aren't erasing the curse but merely directing it towards some already tortured or dead individual. Arstor, the Earl of Carim was a messed up dude.
A good way to acquire Twinkling Titanite is to harvest it from the Man-Eater Shells found in the Crystal Forest and Ash Lake. Man-Eater Shells, which are basically giant demonic oysters, are filled with human skulls. By the way, did you know they also drop Purging Stones? Does it mean that the creation of Purging Stones mean feeding people into these walking horrors?
Arstor, the Earl of Carim was also responsible for the "Bite" rings, which grant resistance against a variety of debuffs. Though nothing specific is named, the game goes out of it's way to tell you that the process for creating these rings is abominable.
Or at least he saw there is no other way to prevent the effects of a curse and even beforehand one must give up their humanity to prevent the curses from inflicting them. Once one is officially cursed though, there is no other way to remove than to pass it on to the dead. Being Cursed is effectively becoming a hollow.
You are instantly dropped into the NG+ everytime you finish. Several items, like the White Sign Soapstone, mention the flow of time is distorted. This led to the conclusion, that all the undead are stuck in an timeloop.
When you find Artorias in the DLC, one of his arms is broken and hangs limply at his side. When you find Sif, he is protected by the Cleansing Shield, a version of Artorias's shield that is battered and broken. Artorias protected Sif until his arm broke from the force.
And consider this: Artorias' left arm was the one that was mangled beyond use. In the description of the Majestic Greatsword (all but outright said to be Artorias' sword) in Dark Souls 2 says that all prominent swordsmen that wielded it were left handed. If used in your left hand one uses some of Artorias' attacks. So what does this all mean? Artorias wasn't fighting you with his sword hand and he was still that powerful regardless.
Izalith wasn't always Lost, it was once a living city. Now imagine what it was like for the inhabitants the day the Witch of Izalith became the Bed of Chaos and demons started flooding the streets. Or maybe the people themselves were transformed into the demons the chosen undead fights...
Look carefully at the teeth of a Mimic. They're actually finger bones.
In the Undead Burg, you meet a female undead merchant, she sells poison-related items, Moss clumps that cure poison and toxins, arrows, and...Dung Pies..? In the Undead Burg and the Parish, the hollows never drop Dung Pies, nor is it found on the ground. What is she selling you then..?
It is said that the Undead can never die; well, not truly anyway. Unless you go hollow, then you can at last become subject to true death. Fall down seven times, stand up eight, but if eight isn't enough then you'll go hollow and something will turn up eventually to put you down for good right? Then it can finally, truly end, right? ...Right? ...or perhaps not. Perhaps this is just a comforting illusion perpetuated for the sake of avoiding a harsher reality? Perhaps the mad undead you face aren't the final form of hollowing? Perhaps, after you've lost all your higher motivations as a sapient being you've still got a way to go in your hollowing, until even the more feral motives driving you to attack whoever approaches have left you. Perhaps all those corpses you find scattered across Lordran aren't corpses at all, but undead who have gone so hollow they can't even motivate themselves to so much as twitch as you rifle through their pockets? Think about this next time you visit the graveyard in the painted world.